US president Donald Trump grudgingly signed into law on Wednesday new sanctions against Russia that Congress had approved overwhelmingly last week, criticizing the legislation as having “clearly unconstitutional” elements.
Ever since the United States entered the stage as a world power, it’s brushed up against Russia. From the 1918-20 international intervention that halfheartedly tried to prevent the rise of Soviet communism to this latest American sanctions bill, the US has long hoped to turn Russia into yet another reliable ally, joined together in a liberal order of peace and prosperity.
It is a relationship between an idealistic, extremely safe nation state and a cynical, deeply insecure one. One finds every betrayal or turnabout shocking; the other sees them as a natural course of events. Read more
Putin Has Already Got Most of What He Wanted from Trump
The G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany has been a mixed success for American president Donald Trump.
On the one hand, Trump negotiated a ceasefire for southwestern Syria with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin. American-backed rebels have been fighting the Russian-backed regime of Bashar Assad there.
On the other hand, he didn’t elicit Russia’s support for the war against the self-proclaimed Islamic State, which is Trump’s priority.
On the one hand, G20 leaders conditioned open markets on “reciprocal and mutually advantageous trade” in their summit declaration and recognized the role of “legitimate trade defense instruments” — a political victory for Trump.
On the other hand, a threat from European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker to retaliate with EU trade sanctions appears to have persuaded Trump not to raise tariffs on steel. Read more
Shirley Bassey reminds us that we all come full circle sometimes:
The word is about, there’s something evolving
Whatever may come, the world keeps revolving
They say the next big thing is here
That the revolution’s near
But to me it seems quite clear
That it’s all just a little bit of history repeating
Tension between the United States and North Korea, Russian involvement in Western elections, talk of a nuclear arms race and the use of phrases like “disinformation” — the present day has an aura of déjà vu. Like we’ve seen it before and we’ll see it again, to paraphrase Ms Bassey.
Many are referring to our time as another Cold War. As an historian, I can’t help but wonder if this is an appropriate comparison? Read more
Russia has suspended a military hotline it maintained with the United States to avoid clashes in Syria and warned that it may shoot down any “flying objects” west of the River Euphrates.
The escalation comes after an American fighter jet shot down a Syrian warplane on Sunday that was attacking rebel ground forces supported by the United States in the vicinity of the Tabqa Dam. Read more
Trump’s Team Was Desperate for Back Channel with Moscow
The Washington Post reports that Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law and one of the president’s top advisors, proposed setting up a secret back channel with the Kremlin in December during a meeting that was also attended by General Michael Flynn. Read more